Friday, October 5, 2012

fear and loathing of public transportation

despite the tales of problematic and damaged gene pools running amok on the trains, it turned out to be nothing like the carnage of driving on the west side of town.  it was so comfy, riders could practically stretch out and no one ever honked trying to get around you.  compared to the crowded masses i'd stood amongst on the east coast, the trains in l.a. felt like pure luxury.  even though my woman complained that it took twice as long, i held steady.  this little piece of nirvana had convinced me that the place where scientology and pentacostolism were born might have something to offer the world after all.

after the novelty of arriving to work without the urge to bark insanity at my coworkers wore off, i had periods of occasional doubt about my decision, like the skinny, tall white guy with the three foot afro.  the sight of a 6'6" walking, licorice-flavored lollipop even made the sober people double-take.  and then there was the black woman who had no business dressing like a poor impersonation of the supremes in broad daylight that accosted me in korean.  i hadn't had acid in years, but that certainly brought the feeling back.  seeing these freaks was actually rather comforting, knowing i wouldn't be singled out by law enforcement or other profilers for harassment.  no, the true test of my train-riding resolve arrived in two other forms.

religious zealots love a place where lots of people congregate.  bullhorns make sure everyone can hear you while no one can understand a word.  an entire stack of literature can be unloaded along with one's proselytitic guilt in mere minutes.  such efficiency made socializing with fellow proselytizers difficult, so was avoided like birth control.  when intercepting decent passers-by got boring, the preaching would board the train.  nothing makes me quite as uneasy as being around recent converts, still so low in the pecking order that they're forced into situations where repeated rejection was inevitable.  negative feedback leads to backsliding, which leads to hijacking and armed robbery.  occasionally, naive commuters challenge the zealots.  this is a recipe for pure entertainment.  two sides totally indignant and emboldened by each others' complete blindness shouting with illogic that no one can follow. it's almost as good as presidential election coverage.

another test of my train-riding resolve came when they installed tv's on the buses.  as if my naps weren't being interrupted enough by the preachers, the bus itself had to blare video at me.  i learned who rihanna was.  i found out that bus riders love bruce willis more than tracy morgan.  i also realized that multiple choice trivia is remarkably challenging for children who can't read.  they preferred the pictures of galaxies and nebula, but preferred dancing to telemundo even more.  i was really starting to feel a kinship with people and it was driving me crazy.  tv's were being used in place of parenting at home and were reinforcing their pacifying role amongst the adults here on the bus.  i would occasionally imagine myself arguing at the top of my lungs with the tv just to give all the kind folks something real to be enamored by, but i had seen intolerance of such activity from a model minority before and didn't want to enter that scene.

as the weeks wore on, the volume kept drifting downward.  even a pacified underclass can kindly ask to have nap time restored.  more text-based programming was introduced, stuff that didn't need audio.

having experienced and conquered these two particular early tests of my bus-riding resolve, i settled in to a routine.  after a little trial and error, routes that didn't take quite as long were found; and i perfected the gentle art of bumming rides familiar to all carless people surrounded by cars.

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